SUFFOLK, Va. - The Suffolk School Board has unanimously approved their budget for 2017-18, totaling $160,985,420.
In an 8-0 vote on Wednesday night, Suffolk City Council approved the 2017-18 budget, awarding an additional $2 million to the Suffolk School Board.
With the new budget, Dr. Deran Whitney announced that all teachers on scale will get a 2.5% raise. Full-time support staff will also receive a 2.5% raise. This includes bus drivers. Permanent part-time teachers will receive a 1% raise.
In an interview after the approval, Whitney said it was always the Board's goal to increase teacher salaries but the change was in the way they did it, granting all teachers the same percentage raise instead of a raise based on contracts and tenure..
Last week during a School Board meeting teachers, bus drivers and community members expressed concern as to where the additional monies would go. Firing questions about audits, teacher pay, bus driver bonuses, and funding for Special Ed., Science, History and Sports.
News 3 spoke to City Council member Tim Johnson after he voted no on approving the additional money back on May 3rd. He said to make that money available for the schools, the city would have to cut possible positions and he does not believe there is a money issue within the school system, but a morale problem with where and how the money is spent. The other 7 members of council voted to approve the additional funds.
For years there has been unrest in Suffolk, so much so that after this year many teachers are leaving. Some bus drivers have already quit or begun looking for work elsewhere. Drivers organized a 'sick-out' last month to take a stand for better pay, cancelling more than 100 bus routes that day.
Teachers are now calling for audits, wanting to know where money is spent in each school.
Whitney said money was a big issue but hopes this new budget will alleviate some of the frustrations. He also said he is taking input from teachers about other work conditions and focusing energy and resources on getting morale back.